Val Casies, Kerschbaumer returns to success

The Italian claimed first success in nearly two years in Internazionali d’Italia Series stage 4, dropping a solid Avondetto in the final, and gives important indications to Italian coach Celestino ahead of the OG

On a beautiful day in the green valley, whose sights excited both the athletes and the attending personnel and media, Italy celebrated the return to the success of arguably its most talented representative: Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Specialized Racing Team) took his first victory of the season in style, relaunching his ambitions in view of the Tokyo Olympic Games and the World Championships in Val di Sole, the latter being an even more cherished goal for the Alto Adige native.

It was July 20, 2019, when Gerhard Kerschbaumer won his second consecutive Italian title at Chies d’Alpago, a few weeks after winning the 2019 edition of the Internazionali d’Italia Series. From there started a long winless stretch, also due to the sad COVID-affected season, that was finally interrupted on Wednesday, June 2nd, right in his own Südtirol region, in that same Val Casies where he had competed as a child, and that now welcomed him back as arguably the best Italian MTB rider of his generation.

On the hard course of the 4th stage of the Internazionali d’Italia Series, Kerschbaumer immediately wanted to impose the pace, and only one athlete could keep up with him: fresh off the first podium in the UCI MTB World Cup among Under 23, Simone Avondetto (Trek-Pirelli) keeps on showing his progression towards the highest level of this sport, race after race.

In a selective race in which the 30-year-old of the Specialized Racing Team has repeatedly tried to force the pace, both uphill and in the technical descents, the best Under 23 of the Internazionali d’Italia Series always found a way to respond until the penultimate lap, when he had to surrender to the decisive break by Kerschbaumer. In the end, 37 seconds separated Kerschbaumer and Avondetto, who still got the satisfaction of wearing the Internazionali d’Italia Series Open Men leader’s jersey with just one race to go.

Kerschbaumer claimed his first success with his new jersey, and the confidence that things are finally turning around. “Today it went really well,” said the Italian. “Honestly, I was not worried about the lack of results in this early season; at 30, I know myself well, and I know that when the warmer weather comes, that’s when I give the best of me. Today in Val Casies it was warm, and my feelings were exactly what I hoped for. Congratulations to the organizers for a high-level course; I am glad that next year’s Italian Championships will be raced here. Right now, I look forward to Tokyo and Val di Sole: my biggest dream is a winning a World title at home, possibly in front of a cheering public. Let’s hope to make it happen.”

Behind the two leaders, Chilean Martin Vidaurre finished in third place at 1.01, ahead of Andreas Vittone (KTM Protek Elettrosystem) and Anton Sintsov (Struby Bixs Team).